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5min maximum integration time?

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#1 Astrojedi

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Posted 20 November 2019 - 01:41 PM

I don't mean to challenge the mods or such decisions as I know it takes quite a bit of effort to moderate these forums but I am concerned that the 5 minute integration limit is very restrictive especially for fainter objects.

 

Again, I am asking this question in the spirit of discussion and not to fight or challenge anyone's authority (I would urge other members of this forum to please keep this discussion civil assuming the mods allow it). Ultimately, if the forum stops serving its audience then you will likely see more attrition and less use... this is the last thing we want for this already very small corner of the universe.

 

I for one will have to stop posting some of the more interesting / exotic objects that I like observing e.g. faint quasars, distant galaxy groups, interacting galaxies, gravitational lenses etc.which usually take more than 5 minutes of integration with my equipment and my light polluted backyard or maybe stop posting observations completely. 

 

I would think a better way to decide these limits would be to poll the community of users who use cameras for EAA and see what they think is appropriate.

 

A rule like this does not necessarily exclude users but it makes the universe we can share here on this forum a lot smaller and a lot less interesting.

 

Best,

AJ

 

P.S. Mods if you think this is not the right forum to discuss this please let me know which forum to post in.


Edited by Astrojedi, 20 November 2019 - 01:43 PM.

 

#2 saguaro

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Posted 20 November 2019 - 01:50 PM

I agree the new limit is too restrictive. I’d like to know more about why a 5 minute limit was chosen. 


 

#3 cmooney91

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Posted 20 November 2019 - 02:37 PM

If I had to guess at my habits it would be:

 

33% <5min

45% 5min - 10min

20% 10min - 15min

2% >15min

 

Many times I am watching the object,  tweaking the histogram, or I'm discussing it with others at the club, or I'm researching the current or next target.  Time flies when you are having fun, and 5 minutes feels like a blink of an eye.

 

Some times I do walk off and join the visual folks for 30 min to an hour, and come back to check the live-stack, but I don't consider that EAA.

 

Visually observing, it takes me more than 5 minutes to find a new unfamiliar obscure object, and when I do I dwell for 3-10 minutes trying out different magnifications or filters.


Edited by cmooney91, 20 November 2019 - 02:56 PM.

 

#4 selfo

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Posted 20 November 2019 - 02:42 PM

I wholeheartedly agree as well.

For many of us who are not fortunate enough to have a Bortle 3 or better sky or who have cameras that may not be as sensitive, 5 min is simply not long enough especially for those faint objects mentioned by Astrojedi.

I get that in EAA we are all about observing and not about getting near perfect images with overly massaged post processing. This is why I like EAA for its simplicity and modest
Equipment requirements. I think we can have still have that goal with at least 10 min or more integration time.

Heck...When I observe visually using an eyepiece I can easily spend 20 min or more looking at the structure of M51 or waiting for the seeing to improve just long enough to see the Enke division in Saturn’s rings. This is pure visual Astronomy so tell me why would I limit myself to some arbitrary time limit of 5 minutes?

Edited by selfo, 20 November 2019 - 02:44 PM.

 

#5 mikenoname

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Posted 20 November 2019 - 03:18 PM

I think we can have still have that goal with at least 10 min or more integration time.

 

I could support this as being a much more reasonable time.

 

Until Hiten started this thread, I didn't even notice the new rules. Therefore, this morning, I unwittingly violated them by participating in the November Observer's Challenge. I guess I will not be able to participate in any more challenges on this forum until more reasonable limits are set. I know what my equipment is capable of doing, and I know what kind of objects I like shooting (the more faint stuff) and have settled on 10 minutes as pretty much an ideal integration time for me. With five minutes being the limit, I will basically not be able to post much of anything here anymore.


 

#6 Don Rudny

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Posted 20 November 2019 - 03:55 PM

I’m with AJ on this.  I took an excerpt from the forum rules that defines EAA.

 

“EAA has become an important observing tool that assists in overcoming the adverse effects of light pollution and aids in sharing the experience with others at outreach events.”

 

If it is an “important observing tool”, then isn’t limiting integration time also limiting the observing time?  Sure, there are some objects that I might only observe for five minutes, but usually I spend fifteen or twenty minutes on each, especially when doing outreach for others.  My subs are typically one minute or less that I continually live stack as I am observing or talking about the object.  If I stop stacking at five minutes, I feel disingenuous telling the audience that we are looking at a near live view.  I explain the stacking process and that the system is continuously viewing and improving what we see revealing more detail.  The most asked question is, “is that what that scope is looking at now?”  I know some practicing EAA who might spend an hour or more observing an object.

 

I know this subject has been discussed here before and the consensus was to not set a limit.  I thought that was working quite well for everyone, but maybe I missed something.  Is there a specific reason or rationale to limit it to five minutes?

 

Thanks for any feedback.

 

Don


 

#7 GaryShaw

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Posted 20 November 2019 - 04:20 PM

I guess I’m hearing that everyone contributing to this discussion is in agreement that limiting the integration time is counterproductive to the spirit of EAA ‘observing’. 

 

I’ve only become really active here on CN initially because I found that EAA opened up deep space astronomy to me and, since becoming active, I’ve also begun exploring and contributing to other ‘regions’ of the CN community and the wealth of knowledge and experience that I find here accelerates my own learning and pleasure in observing. 
 

I have a lot of respect for the Moderators and would be interested to hear what the thinking was that lead to the idea of a limit on integration time. 
cheers,

Gary


 

#8 Sean Cunneen

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Posted 20 November 2019 - 04:23 PM

When I was in my younger days I read an article in RC Modeler magazine about a guy who bought a plane kit. The kit was large, arriving on several pallets from a big truck and as the guy began to assemble it, he noticed the instructions did not include any info about where to put the radio/servos etc. He had lots of experience and since he was an experienced builder. it didn't bother him. It's when he got to the seat, which was an actual seat, not a model seat that he realized that he had not built an RC plane, he had bought an actual kit plane! He was only appreciating the level of detail, he never noticed exactly when he went from a hobby plane builder to an actual builder of planes.

 

My point is this, for many of you EAA has evolved into Astrophotography. The heart of EAA is to observe in real time using electronic aids. If your process involves walking away from your setup, can you really say you are observing in real time?

 

If you are doing outreach and you have a group of kids hanging around your monitor, will they wait 10 minutes while an image is stacked and processed? Even if your process is automated so all you do is click a button and wait and minutes later you are presented with a great image? So if that's EAA, lets take that a step further and ask "what's GOOD EAA " or even better, "Whats AWESOME EAA"???

 

The EAA experience has evolved from Malincams updating every 30 seconds to  an analog video monitor . Now, you get to use AP tools and AP equipment but in a more streamlined fashion and that requires some finesse on our part to manage that.

 

All that being said, I won't go into how or why we came to the decision to limit integration times, I only want to ask you the same questions we ask ourselves. We want to make sure this forum has a specific purpose for an interested audience and when the technology catches up to us, we have an obligation to adjust, even though change is scary. I believe through defining what is EAA and what isn't maybe we can help manufacturers to understand how to cater to your needs better and get images that don't take as long as AP pics to view.

 

Thanks,

Sean


 

#9 Astrojedi

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Posted 20 November 2019 - 05:06 PM

Thanks for the response Sean. I understand the intent but I don't think this is going to have the desired impact for a few reasons. I also think there are some misunderstandings here.

 

Laws of physics are what the are: Even if I had a 100% QE and 0 read noise camera it would still take me 10-15 minutes to observe a mag 20-21 object as the required SNR builds. There is just no way around it. No vendor can change that. I also have a finite budget for equipment. I cannot just spend endless sums of money to speed up acquisition.

 

Real-time observing: I use NV (Gen 3) as well which is as real time as it gets. It is awesome for nebulae but it is close to useless when it comes to going deep and observing faint objects like gravitational lensing, distant galaxy clusters etc. from my heavily light polluted backyard. Anyways what does "real time" mean in a universe where even in our lifetimes nothing really changes. Does a few more minutes matter?

 

Observing time: I do quite a bit of visual observing and I spend on average 20-30 minutes on an object. When doing outreach whether I am using EAA or an eyepiece, my approach is very similar to Don's (and Don has more outreach and EAA experience than most here -  I visited the Mauna Kea visitor center a few years ago and they do an awesome job there).

 

Community input: Very few of the folks on this forum who use modern cameras for EAA, the actual users, will agree with a 5 min limit. I think it is a mistake to ignore the community's input. Just by changing the rules of the EAA forum I don't think you can change how people do EAA or change the industry and influence the vendor ecosystem. That is too ambitious. All this will do is dampen the participation in this forum.

 

Again, I am trying to have an honest discussion here. For me personally just because a forum arbitrarily defines EAA as less than 5 minutes is not going to change the reality of my circumstances or how I practice EAA. It will just lessen my participation and I am sure I am not the only one.

 

Best,

AJ


 

#10 Rickster

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Posted 20 November 2019 - 05:29 PM

I will keep this short and say that I am in complete agreement with Astrojedi and could not have said it better myself. 


 

#11 nic35

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Posted 20 November 2019 - 06:47 PM

Didn't we beat this horse to death in early 2018 ?  I seem to recall some rather rancorous debate about the need for limits or restrictions on post processing.  We got to where we are - off in our own little dusty corner - as a result of that debate. 

 

I even forget where we came from !

 

Personally, I'm against a time limit of any sort - for most objects I'm generally under 10 minutes, but occasionally I like to go deeper to chase some faint fuzzies in real time.  That's the reality of observing in Bortle 7 skies where a LP filter is necessary, and one isn't up to dropping $1k on Starizona for a hyperstar.

 

If I lived under Bortle 2 skies and had an f/2 scope, I'd probably be good with 5 minutes.  Maybe even 2 minutes - which is roughly the equivalent of 27 minutes in my skies with an f/6 scope.  

 

I do agree that one shouldn't post process.

 

john


 

#12 donstim

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Posted 20 November 2019 - 09:10 PM

I completely agree with AJ, Don, and John on this.  An arbitrary maximum integration time of 5 minutes seems too limiting to me.  When I have been to an outreach event, or just had family, friends, and neighbors over, 10-15 minutes goes by extremely quickly, and everyone has been plenty patient and interested in the whole camera/EAA process to be able to see objects (albeit on a screen) that they would have no chance of seeing visually in any eyepiece after any length of time.  They show nearly as much excitement as I feel as an object gradually appears out of seemingly nothing at all.

 

My experience regarding integration times has been pretty much the same as cmooney91's (except it's probably more like 0.1% are longer than 15 minutes).

 

Sean, you referenced how much patience kids might have for waiting for an image on a monitor .  I'm not so sure that's a proper baseline to use to determine EAA maximum integration times for a web forum predominantly (I assume) used by adults. Also, compared to "live" visual observing, I have waited in lines longer than 5 minutes to do "real time" visual observations at a telescope eyepiece.  At least with EAA, if they don't want to watch the image build in "real-time," they can go do something other than stand in a line and come back 5-10 or more minutes later and see the full blown image with no line to wait in.

 

Having said all that, whatever you set as the maximum integration time won't really affect me in the slightest.  Because of the forum rules, I don't post images in this forum and don't plan to going forward.  If I have a reason (like a technical issue or something) that requires the use of an image to illustrate, I seek help elsewhere (like the user forums for the hardware or software I am using).

 

Although as you point out in the forum rules, there is a dedicated astrophotography forum (actually there's more than one), I do feel what is left out is that wide expanse between "live" EAA and astrophotography. What I and I feel many others now do is take their EAA images and then do some limited post-processing to improve the image a bit for keeping and sharing with friends/family. Don't get me wrong, I'm not advocating including this as EAA in this forum, but I just want to make the statement that I feel like this segment is missing a suitable forum within Cloudy Nights. The EAA forum covers most of it, but then the post-processing takes it beyond EAA.  However, the post-processing is so much different (because it is so minimal and because the "pre-processed" image is so different) than what is discussed in the astrophotography forums, only a small portion of the discussions (and none of the images) in those forums are very helpful.


Edited by donstim, 20 November 2019 - 09:11 PM.

 

#13 OleCuss

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Posted 20 November 2019 - 09:12 PM

I'm perfectly fine with the integration times being limited to 5 minutes.  Not a big deal for me since I just don't bother posting any images anyway.  I'd also note that I believe one can still post links to images with longer integration times although then the flow of the conversation/browsing is somewhat disrupted.

 

I would contend once again that what we do here is AP.  The distinction which I find relevant is that we are observing.

 

IMHO limiting the integration time to 5 minutes means that the sub-forum is no longer about observing.  It is simply about AP with minimal data.  Might as well go to a regular AP sub-forum?


 

#14 Todd N

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Posted 20 November 2019 - 09:35 PM

I would say 5 minutes is too long for what I traditionally understand what EAA should more or less be about: Enhanced live or near live viewing. Before, EAA was low light video cameras and night vision with only a few seconds total integration time producing one image to be viewed live until it was refreshed. Now, it seems to me much of EAA has veered off into a realm of astrophotography. Digital cams have taken over and software allows any number of subexposures  of any duration to be co-added together producing one image sans image calibration. This was already a feature going way back with CCD cameras from SBIG and Starlight Xpress called Track & Accumulate and Sum & Slew respectively. Omitting any image calibration that could be easily employed like dark frames shouldn't be the distinguishing factor, IMO. Integration times limited to around one minute or less is more so in line with the aim of EAA. Dedicated long exposure CCD/CMOS cams should be excluded.

 

Todd


Edited by Todd N, 20 November 2019 - 10:39 PM.

 

#15 Astrojedi

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Posted 20 November 2019 - 10:05 PM

I started out with video cameras and single short exposures. Could not see any except the brightest objects from my light polluted backyard. Resolution was very poor. It was severely limiting.

Why don’t we move ahead with the times? Why does what we did 10-20 years ago have to define what we do today and the future? What problem are these restrictions solving?

 

I have been observing for 20+ years and it is important to note that the expectations have also changed significantly over the years. 10 years ago folks were excited to see the central star in M57 with EAA. Now it’s a non event. Now folks want to see deeper, want better resolution.

 

Finally, EAA is about intent not the tools used. In fact when this forum started post processed images were allowed. While I am not advocating that, the point is that intent is important.

I do AP as well as EAA. To me they are completely distinct.


Edited by Astrojedi, 20 November 2019 - 10:24 PM.

 

#16 Wildetelescope

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Posted 20 November 2019 - 10:56 PM

What exactly are the distinctions between what is considered EAA and AP?  For the most part, the equipment is the same.  Darkfield subtraction, flatfield calibrations can be done in real time.  Histogram adjustment, whitebalance, color adjustment, gamma, etc... are all done real time now.  It is only a matter of time before someone writes a code that incorporates wavelet sharpening or blind deconvolution algorithms to be done in real time as well.  Is the main difference where you stop in the work flow?   Just curious.  It seems like advances in computers and cameras are progressing to the point where AP and EAA substantively distinct.   It is certainly an exciting time, no matter what you call it.  

 

Cheers!

 

JMD 


 

#17 Todd N

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Posted 20 November 2019 - 11:05 PM

What exactly are the distinctions between what is considered EAA and AP?  For the most part, the equipment is the same.  Darkfield subtraction, flatfield calibrations can be done in real time.  Histogram adjustment, whitebalance, color adjustment, gamma, etc... are all done real time now.  It is only a matter of time before someone writes a code that incorporates wavelet sharpening or blind deconvolution algorithms to be done in real time as well.  Is the main difference where you stop in the work flow?   Just curious.  It seems like advances in computers and cameras are progressing to the point where AP and EAA substantively distinct.   It is certainly an exciting time, no matter what you call it.  

 

Cheers!

 

JMD 

 

It's more like the other way around where EEA of this sort  has morphed into astrophotography in all but name by utilizing a 'Track & Accumulate' method of imaging. EAA should be based on cams/equipment that utilize real time image feed not co-adding sub exposures.

 

Todd

 

I should have made the point that astro video cams accumulate frames but this is where real time feed is the distinction since they are in the realm of 1/30, 1/60 sec or so.


Edited by Todd N, 20 November 2019 - 11:47 PM.

 

#18 DSO_Viewer

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Posted 20 November 2019 - 11:57 PM

What exactly are the distinctions between what is considered EAA and AP?  For the most part, the equipment is the same.  Darkfield subtraction, flatfield calibrations can be done in real time.  Histogram adjustment, whitebalance, color adjustment, gamma, etc... are all done real time now.  It is only a matter of time before someone writes a code that incorporates wavelet sharpening or blind deconvolution algorithms to be done in real time as well.  Is the main difference where you stop in the work flow?   Just curious.  It seems like advances in computers and cameras are progressing to the point where AP and EAA substantively distinct.   It is certainly an exciting time, no matter what you call it.  

 

Cheers!

 

JMD 

I guess with EAA everything that you mentioned is done live or on the fly and with AP it is captured saved and post-processed at a later time/date.

 

Steve


 

#19 dr.who

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Posted 21 November 2019 - 01:10 AM

Let me expand on the excellent explanation Sean gave.

 

The reason why we have collectively decided to modify the EAA forum rules is simple. Many images in this forum have crossed over from EAA which is Electronically Assisted Astronomy ie: observing with the aid of electronic enhancement and are now images that belong in an AP forum. The whole reason we allowed images to be posted here was so that it would assist in the discussion of viewing as well as to assist with troubleshooting problems with setups. Not as yet another AP forum. 

 

It was not meant for people to post what amount to de facto AP images. Because of this drift into AP we decided the most appropriate way to bring it back into line with what it is meant to be was a hard limit on exposure time. 

 

For everyone who wants to shoot and stack images longer than 5 minutes or engage in processing, either on the fly or after the fact, of an image beyond what is allowed in the rules of this forum you are welcome to take your work over to DLSR, Beginning and Intermediate Imaging, or CCD/CMOS.  The alternative to this is that we will shut down the EAA forum and fold it into the AP forums. 


 

#20 donstim

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Posted 21 November 2019 - 03:39 AM

It is only a matter of time before someone writes a code that incorporates wavelet sharpening or blind deconvolution algorithms to be done in real time as well.  Is the main difference where you stop in the work flow?   Just curious.  It seems like advances in computers and cameras are progressing to the point where AP and EAA substantively distinct.   It is certainly an exciting time, no matter what you call it.  

 

Cheers!

 

JMD 

FYI, SharpCap already has 2 forms of noise reduction and sharpening that can be done in real time during live stacking. Although I would not consider this to be "post-processing" it would appear that this "on-the-fly" processing is now also not allowed to be used for images shown in this forum. Maybe the forum rules need a further clarification?

 

I would assume that if images shown in this forum cannot have any of these characteristics (i.e., integration times longer than 5 minutes (heck make it 2 minutes if you really want it to be real time), any processing at all, etc.), discussions of same would also be off limits?

 

I had been under the mistaken impression that what I was doing was EAA, but I guess not.  Ah well, it's still fun whatever it is. I just don't know where I can discuss it anymore.


 

#21 rave3c0

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Posted 21 November 2019 - 04:07 AM

Perspective from a novice in the hobby (just late night thoughts really ;) 

 

When I first got into this hobby and stumbled on this area of CN after a couple weeks of reading up on AP. It was casual, fun, live, less restrictive, multi-functional, and way cheaper. I knew immediately this is where I wanted to learn and learn i did, from most of the people replying to this thread actually.  

 

 

What IF "EAA" was 5 min , and "OAP" was up to say 20 or 25 min.  I figure 30 puts you in AP.  Most of what I've seen posted here are between 5 and 15 min integration times.

 

I bring up OAP, Observational AstroPhotograpghy, because maybe that term makes more sense now for the gray areas between what was video astronomy and what now IMO is basically AP lite( i mean that in a good way too)

 

That probably sounds like it would be 2 different sub forums, maybe it could be or even should be?  Maybe It should be 2 subs under the big AstroPhotography sub so that it brings more attention to both styles of "assisted astronomy".   Shoot, why not Astro Phonograpghy too.  Its all fun and fast to me. 

 

Maybe it should be a vote or a poll first.

 

Just some thoughts from a rookie who really enjoys any astronomy i can get in 5 - 25 minutes ;)


 

#22 elpajare

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Posted 21 November 2019 - 05:45 AM

Perspective from a novice in the hobby (just late night thoughts really wink.gif

 

When I first got into this hobby and stumbled on this area of CN after a couple weeks of reading up on AP. It was casual, fun, live, less restrictive, multi-functional, and way cheaper. I knew immediately this is where I wanted to learn and learn i did, from most of the people replying to this thread actually.  

 

 

What IF "EAA" was 5 min , and "OAP" was up to say 20 or 25 min.  I figure 30 puts you in AP.  Most of what I've seen posted here are between 5 and 15 min integration times.

 

I bring up OAP, Observational AstroPhotograpghy, because maybe that term makes more sense now for the gray areas between what was video astronomy and what now IMO is basically AP lite( i mean that in a good way too)

 

That probably sounds like it would be 2 different sub forums, maybe it could be or even should be?  Maybe It should be 2 subs under the big AstroPhotography sub so that it brings more attention to both styles of "assisted astronomy".   Shoot, why not Astro Phonograpghy too.  Its all fun and fast to me. 

 

Maybe it should be a vote or a poll first.

 

Just some thoughts from a rookie who really enjoys any astronomy i can get in 5 - 25 minutes wink.gif

It is refreshing to read opinions of people new to the hobby because they give a fresh and new point of view.

 

.....In the EAA section you cannot publish photographs if it is not in exceptional way, it is an observation forum mainly

 

.....In the Astrophotography section there are semi-professional long exposure photography. Is not for us.

 

Perhaps your idea of creating these Subforums would encourage people to participate in them. I like the term AP Light!


 

#23 nicknacknock

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Posted 21 November 2019 - 05:49 AM

Hi elpajare,

 

My 2c below:

 

It is refreshing to read opinions of people new to the hobby because they give a fresh and new point of view.

 

.....In the EAA section you cannot publish photographs if it is not in exceptional way, it is an observation forum mainly - correct and should remain as such

 

.....In the Astrophotography section there are semi-professional long exposure photography. Is not for us. - why not? we can add a tag - EAA Imaging if you wish to separate

 

Perhaps your idea of creating these Subforums would encourage people to participate in them. I like the term AP Light! - the logistics necessary to run more forums should be taken into account, considering that this place is run 100% by unpaid volunteers


 

#24 Astrojedi

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Posted 21 November 2019 - 09:26 AM

Let me expand on the excellent explanation Sean gave.

 

The reason why we have collectively decided to modify the EAA forum rules is simple. Many images in this forum have crossed over from EAA which is Electronically Assisted Astronomy ie: observing with the aid of electronic enhancement and are now images that belong in an AP forum. The whole reason we allowed images to be posted here was so that it would assist in the discussion of viewing as well as to assist with troubleshooting problems with setups. Not as yet another AP forum. 

 

It was not meant for people to post what amount to de facto AP images. Because of this drift into AP we decided the most appropriate way to bring it back into line with what it is meant to be was a hard limit on exposure time. 

 

For everyone who wants to shoot and stack images longer than 5 minutes or engage in processing, either on the fly or after the fact, of an image beyond what is allowed in the rules of this forum you are welcome to take your work over to DLSR, Beginning and Intermediate Imaging, or CCD/CMOS.  The alternative to this is that we will shut down the EAA forum and fold it into the AP forums. 

Thanks. There are many things you have said that I agree with. This definitely should not be AP. But limiting exposure time is arbitrary and problematic.

 

I use longer exposure time to go deeper and see fainter stuff and not to do AP. Folks in the visual observing forum use larger and larger scopes to go deeper which is not an option for me.

 

Limiting total exposure time for EAA observers to me is akin to telling the visual observers that you cannot use scopes larger than say 16” (a completely arbitrary limit). Observations with that 48” scope are not allowed.

 

I hope you understand the point I am making. At least consider a 10 or 15 min limit. If you go on the AP forum it is hard to find an image which has less than 2-3 hours of exposure. So 10-15 mins still keeps you well away from AP.


 

#25 CharlesC

CharlesC

    Gemini

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Posted 21 November 2019 - 09:37 AM

5 minutes is fine if you are in a dark site, but in a red zone it will take 20 minutes to get M101.  I think 20 minutes is a reasonable limit.

The 5 minute rule eliminates everyone in suburbs from posting dim galaxies.


 


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